Please welcome guest blogger, Stevie Ray! He is a nationally recognized speaker concerning communication skills, customer service, leadership, and team management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Carol Burnett once said, “Comedy is tragedy plus time.”
For educators, however, it seems like time can make laughter drift out of reach; the results can be devastating. To be sure, a small bit of stress is actually good for us. Stress, in moderate amounts, allows us to focus and remain productive. And human beings highly value productivity. Getting stuff done, especially stuff we like doing, creates a release of Dopamine in the brain. This pleasure hormone is what feeds our feelings of satisfaction. So work is not all bad, it just depends on how we balance it with play.
Ask most people what the opposite of play is and they will say, “Work.” This is far from the truth. Dr. Stuart Brown M.D. studied the effects of play on the brain. Quite simply, play is defined by any activity that is done for its own sake. It is non-productive, elicits joy from the participant, and tends to turn off our internal clock; time flies. It actually walks hand-in-hand with work to create a healthy brain. If the brain is starved of play behavior for long periods of time, healthy chemicals cease, and the brain shuts down. Essentially, the opposite of play is not work, the opposite of play is depression.
So educators must engage in behavior that brings a good hearty laugh occasionally throughout the day.
The best way to do this is to understand where laughter comes from. There are four main causes of laughter.
1) Laughter of Superiority. Most laughter is pointed at someone else’s foibles, making us feel a bit superior (but in a fun way).
2) Laugher of Recognition. We laugh when someone else talks about a situation that we ourselves experienced. It’s a sharing mechanism.
3) Laughter of the Unexpected. When we are surprised, we laugh.
4) Laughter of Delight. When in groups, people tend toward laughter (unless some sourpuss puts a lid on it).
People are sixteen times more likely to laugh at something if they experience it with other people. If you are sitting laughing all by yourself, we need to get you some help.
So the best way to keep laughter a part of your day, and keep a healthy disposition is to engage the Four Laws of Laughter. Do something to surprise a friend or colleague. Share a story about what happened to you recently. Make yourself the brunt of the joke if you aren’t sure who will be a good sport. And don’t isolate yourself! You can surprise yourself in ways that aren’t necessarily funny. Just doing common tasks in a new way shakes the cobwebs out of the brain and lightens your mood.
Remember, you are trying to be humorous, not funny! People who try to be funny usually end up being annoying. Humor draws everyone in, so be open about your experiences and others will do likewise. The result will keep laughter a part of your day, all the way until the end of the year.